Donald Trump dubbed Russian collusion allegations the “greatest political hoax” in American history yesterday as he turned the Mueller report’s findings into a 2020 election rallying cry.
Addressing thousands of supporters in Michigan, the US president repeatedly touted special counsel Robert Mueller’s recent conclusion that he had not conspired with the Kremlin.
Mr Trump mocked the “collusion delusion” during his Thursday evening address in the key swing state, cheered on by a boisterous crowd who chanted "four more years".
He attacked the Democrats for continuing their “bulls***” investigations into his presidency and pointed the finger of suspicion at US intelligence services, saying his campaign was spied on.
“They spied on me. They spied on our campaign. Who would even think that is possible?" Mr Trump said at one point.
"The single greatest political hoax in the history of our country. And guess what? We won. It’s a beautiful thing."
Currently just a four-page summary written by William Barr, the US attorney general appointed by Mr Trump, has been produced. It contained only around 100 words of quotations from Mr Mueller’s report.
One of Mr Mueller’s topline findings according to Mr Barr – that neither Mr Trump nor his campaign conspired with Russia – has changed the political landscape dramatically in Washington.
It has turned the Russia investigation from a political weakness for the White House into an opportunity, allowing Mr Trump to portray the Democrats and the “liberal media” as pushers of a narrative that was incorrect.
Mr Mueller’s decision not to exonerate Mr Trump over obstruction of justice, instead choosing not to rule on whether a crime had been committed, has been glossed over by the White House. Mr Barr and his deputy eventually decided themselves that no crime had taken place.
Speaking at his first political event since the Mueller findings emerged, Mr Trump told his supporters at the rally: “This has been an incredible couple of weeks for America.
“The economy is roaring, the Isis caliphate is defeated, one hundred percent, and after three years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead.
"The collusion delusion is over. The special counsel completed its report and found no collusion and no obstruction. I could’ve told you that two and a half years ago very easily. Total exoneration, complete vindication.”
Mr Trump described the Russia investigation as a “sinister effort to undermine our historic election victory and to sabotage the will of the American people”.
“The Russia hoax proves more than ever that we need to finish exactly what we came here to do: Drain the swamp,” the US president said, repeating one of his 2016 election slogans.
“The Democrats have to now decide whether they will continue defrauding the public with ridiculous bulls***, partisan investigations or whether they will apologise to the American people and join us,” he added, before listing his policy priorities.
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Michigan was one of three so-called Rust Belt states – a reference to their manufacturing past – which Mr Trump managed to flip from Democrat to Republican in the 2016 election, the others being Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
All three will be crucial to his re-election hopes come voting day on 3 November 2020.